Feb. 23—After rolling past Propel Braddock Hills in the season opener, Greensburg Central Catholic faced an early season test in Section 3-2A against rival Jeannette on the road.
It did not go well for the visitors. The Centurions trailed after each quarter and lost a tough 47-46 decision to the Jayhawks on Jan. 12.
Not only has Greensburg Central Catholic not lost since that night, it was the only time in 14 games the Centurions have been held under 61 points.
"That loss at Jeannette has been a teaching point for us all year long, and it brought out a lot of things that we struggled with and needed to work on throughout the year, which were learning how to compete on every possession both offensively and defensively," Greensburg Central Catholic second-year coach Christian Hyland said. "We still have work on taking care of the basketball, watching our turnovers and really taking good shots. If we keep getting better at those, it will help us tremendously in our attempt for a long playoff run."
GCC took two more big steps toward finishing first last week with victories over the third- and fourth-place teams in the section.
The week began when Greensburg Central Catholic traveled to Winchester Thurston to take on one of the top scorers in the WPIAL in Jackson Juzang and the Bears.
"Tuesday at Winchester Thurston was a little different game for us," Hyland said. "Especially during this season, specifically with teams playing three, sometimes four times a week, we hadn't played in seven days. Defensively we weren't as sharp as we needed to be, especially with two high-scoring players like Winchester has.
"Ultimately, we settled in and we really able to take advantage of our height inside. Brevan Williams led us with a big night on the boards, was able to get a lot of putbacks and hit some shots for us."
The junior Williams led all scorers with 35 points while teammates senior Christian McGowan scored 15, freshman Tyree Turner 12 and junior Ryan Appleby 11 points in an 89-71 win for GCC.
The next night, the Centurions returned home to battle a different group of Bears.
"We dug ourselves a really big hole being down 23-9 after the first quarter," Hyland said. "Give Clairton a lot of credit because they came out ready to go from the start. Fortunately, we were able to claw back and take the lead before the half. But the key was in the second and third quarters, we were able to dig in defensively and get stops which allowed us to get out in transition and get some easy baskets."
Again, Williams led the way with 26 points while McGowan chipped in 16 points in a 65-46 triumph for GCC over Clairton.
Williams' 61 points last week adds to his total for the year of 288 points, an average of 20.6 points per game.
"Brevan has been huge for us," Hyland said. "He's got the ability to really score in bunches. I think he's come a long way in other parts of his game as well. He's a great athlete who rebounds at a high level, his defense has been a lot better, and overall, I think he has just found a comfort level in our style of play, and he understands how important he is to the things we do."
However, when a team is the third highest-scoring team in the classification, one player can only carry it so far. The Centurions have plenty of scoring weapons when they have the ball.
"Brevan is definitely not alone," Hyland said. "There's a great supporting cast around him with guys like Christian McGowan, Dylan Sebek, Ryan Appleby, Dylan Parsons and others. All of those guys and more have seen double digits this year, and we've had multiple games with four guys with 10-plus points.
"We like to get out in transition, play fast and turn our defense in to our offense. The high number of our side of the scoreboard is always nice to see, but we have to keep working to get better defensively, which will ultimately help us win games in the playoffs."
With the Class 2A open playoffs around the corner, what does Hyland think of his young band of Centurions?
"I think one of the things that's encouraging for our team is that we really haven't had a game where we've thought we've been rock solid for four quarters," he said. "If we are able to defend like we are capable of, and have the success offensively like we've had for four quarters, than I think that we are going to put ourselves in a really good situation come playoff time."
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